The Hindu, 13 May 2009: Ajmal’s smiling and laughing continued unabated, a day after the court reprimanded him. On Tuesday, the court once again chided the accused for his behaviour in court. When the butts of the rifles were being examined, Ajmal seemed to be tickled to pieces.
However, Mr. Tahaliyani took strong objection to his laughing when details of Ombale’s death were being mentioned. The judge remarked that at every mention of Ombale, Ajmal tended to laugh. Ajmal stood up and said that this was not his intention.
Why is he laughing? It is easy to think of it as gross disregard for what is going on or of the seriousness of the crime he committed. But I do not think so.
I think he is genuinely amused by the name Ombale and even more genuinely tickled by the butt of the rifle. It might also mean that he crossed the threshold of the mirage called hope. Must be feeling immense freedom. Otherwise what could lead to this irreverent laughter? Ashley Tellis, a friend, commented that since irreverence presumes awareness of what is to be revered, it is not right to call his laughter irreverent. Ajmal probably is beyond all such awareness. What does suffering produce if not awareness? What are the mysterious ways of suffering? Does it numb your senses or make you more aware of them? Do all violence and suffering annihilate hope? Is hope that good for your health anyway? What is the best way to suffer? Laughter?
Some of these questions can be answered or need to be answered. But they do poke at those blind spots in our understanding of suffering and violence and probably lead only to more questions.
The butt of a rifle tickled him to pieces. The name of his victim too. I also get unduly amused by certain names however prosaic and ordinary they might sound. Ombale is not prosaic by any stretch of imagination and the fact that Ombale is dead does not diminish the potential of his name to amuse! That Ajmal probably killed Ombale also does not preclude his laughter. Or do we expect him to show mercy posthumously by putting up a solemn face? Or to be scared seeing the butt of a rifle?
He said that his confession was obtained by means of torture. He also said that he left home to join a terrorist group because his father refused to buy him new clothes during a festival. The nation is hotly debating whether it should show sympathy to Ajmal and whether he deserves a fair trial so that we prove to the world that we are in fact a liberal democracy. Amidst this, do we miss the cycle of violence and suffering? Or rather, are we missing why the butt of the rifle is so damn hilarious?